Most homeowners have access to an upstairs area known as an attic.
Attics are full of untapped potential because homeowners aren’t sure how they can use it. Figuring out how to organize their attic and sorting through the items they can store in this space can be a bit tricky at first.
If you have an attic that could be more useful, you will want to look at this guide to creating a wonderful and organized space!
Should You Use an Attic for Storage?
An attic can be a great way to tuck away those mementos that don’t have a designated place in your home.
Attics can be a great source of untapped potential for items that you do not need to access regularly. Before you move into the organization phase, there are a few things you need to consider about storing things in your attic.
These things can affect the success of your storage efforts and may even save you from damaging some of your precious belongings:
1. Climate and Temperature
First, you must consider the temperature fluctuations that are present in your attic. Heat rises, which means that your attic is likely the warmest part of your home.
Most people do not have attics that are climate-controlled. The constantly changing temperatures and extreme heat that builds up in the attic might not be conducive to storing certain items.
For example, temperature-sensitive electronics may not be the best thing to put in these areas.
2. Weight and Space
In addition to temperature-sensitive items, you might want to avoid heavy furniture items also.
The floorboards of your attic are not always designed to support heavy items for the long-term.
It will be difficult to get these items up into the attic, and you may have long-term problems with the flooring of the attic or the ceiling in the rest of your home.
3. Water and Roof Leakage
Roof leaks can pose another problem for storage items.
Oftentimes, people may have small leaks that they do not even realize until they spend a little time in their attic. The constant dripping of water can ruin precious items like scrapbooks and family photos.
If you are going to store these types of items in the attic, it is best to ensure that you tuck them away in waterproof, sealed containers.
Great Ways to Add Storage to Your Attic:
Figuring out how to add storage space to your attic can be a bit tricky.
Many people have poorly-lit attics with little to no organization. Following some of these professional tips might make it easier for you to find the things you tuck away for safekeeping.
The best thing to do is to store everything inside a clear container with a lid. This allows you to see what is inside the bin at any given time while also protecting it from the elements. This is also beneficial because it does not attract rodents as easily as cardboard does.
Whenever possible, make sure to write what is in the bin on the outside of the lid with a permanent marker. You should be able to spot what you need at a glance with this method. You should also store these bins on plastic shelving so that you can easily slide bins in and out of place without having to unstack them each time.
Another great way to add storage space to your attic is to hang boxes from the ceiling. Many people are already making great use of their floor space, but they forget about looking up.
With some clever hooks and engineering, you can easily hang storage bins from the rafters – just make sure you are doing this safely and securely.
The space between your trusses is often unused. Consider building custom shelves in this area using inexpensive plywood or particleboard. The trusses serve as natural dividers so that your boxes line up nice and neat.
If you have bulky items like winter coats that need to be stored during the off-season, there is nothing easier than putting up some hooks. Alternatively, you could also install a tension rod where these items can be hung, or use plastic bags that you can vacuum the air out of for easier storage.
This keeps you from having to cram them into a container and gives you easy access to them whenever you need them again.
Storage Ideas for Attics with a Low Ceiling:
If you are not lucky enough to have an attic with tall ceilings, you can still do many things to get yourself organized.
A lot of the tips from the previous section still apply: clear containers are essential to helping you visualize the items in your attic and remain organized. You can still put up hooks and install tension rods and building custom shelves is always an option, whether you have an attic with high ceilings or low ceilings.
Things might be a little bit harder if you have an attic with a low ceiling, though. It is harder to get up into the space to work if you cannot stand up properly.
Many people prefer using pre-fabricated shelves when this is the case. Consider purchasing a set of cubed bookshelves that can store different bins.
When turned horizontally, they should fit nicely along the perimeter of your attic.
4 Items You Should NOT Store in Your Attic:
While there is plenty of room for you to store unwanted or unused items in the attic, not everything should go up here.
Avoid putting some of these key items in your attic if you want to keep them in pristine condition:
1. Delicate Fabrics
If you have clothing that you love that is made from a delicate fabric like wool, linen, or cotton, you should avoid storing them in the attic.
These types of fabrics tend to attract mice, insects, and even moths. These clothes may not even hold up well under the extreme temperature fluctuations that occur inside of an attic.
Instead, you should have them packaged by a professional cleaner and then put them away in the climate-controlled portion of your home.
2. Important Documents
It might seem like a safe place to store all of those important documents like social security cards and birth certificates.
After all, it is less likely that someone is going to break in and steal items from your attic. Unfortunately, these important pieces of paper can easily become damaged by water or insects in the attic. Even when stored in a plastic container, they still may not be entirely safe.
Filing them in a closet or a small safe is the preferred option.
Do you can vegetables for the season or just need a place to store the overflow from your kitchen? The attic is not a good place to keep this type of product.
They need to be stored in airtight containers, wrapped in plastic bags, and sealed in plastic containers to safely store food in the attic.
Otherwise, you are inviting rodents and insects to feast upon your food.
Sensitive electronics cannot hold up under the extreme temperature fluctuations in an attic. This can even include CDs and DVDs. The heat will cause them to warp, and moisture can do even more damage.
How to Store the Ladder to Your Attic:
Getting up and down out of your attic can be a bit tricky, so you may want to consider investing in a ladder, specifically for this purpose.
Fortunately, you do not have to be a particularly handy homeowner to gain access to your attic. All you have to do is purchase a pre-fabricated kit. One of these kits can help you to build a retractable ladder that pulls down from the ceiling and then folds back up again when not in use.
If you do not have an existing attic hatch, then you will need to choose a place to install it. It should fit between the framing of your ceiling or between the flooring joists of the attic.
When installing the ladder, you should always make sure that the bottom of it reaches down to somewhere where you can easily maneuver around.
At the top of the ladder, as you enter the attic, you might want to consider putting up a handrail to guide you off the ladder and into the attic. This makes you feel more secure and lessens your chances of falling. You also need to ensure that the landing into the attic is safe and secure.
This is important so that you can easily climb off the ladder while toting your new storage bins.
The attic can be a clever way to gain extra storage space in your home if you are smart about how to utilize it.
Knowing what you can store up here and now is key!
With some of these tips and tricks, you can easily move some of the clutter from your downstairs up into the attic today!
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Maria is the founder of GoDownsize. While studying architecture in Denmark she became fascinated with designing living spaces for boats, tiny houses, RVs, and other small spaces.
She mainly writes about space optimization, interior design, and downsizing. She’s also in charge of our YouTube channel. Read more about Maria here.